MLB Backs Proposition 27, Online California Sports Betting

  • California has two sports betting measures on the upcoming ballot
  • Prop. 27 would let industry giants into a previously locally restricted market
  • MLB has been a proponent of gambling expansion since 2018
  • Local Democrats vehemently oppose Prop. 27
Dodger Stadium

On the front line

Major League Baseball has announced that it will support the online expansion of California sports betting.

The reveal marks the first official stance set by a professional sports league in the battle between gambling giants and local tribes in the Sunshine State. Proposition 27, the bill MLB is supporting, would open the doors to online operators.

Another sports betting measure, Proposition 26, is also set to appear on the November ballot. That referendum will determine whether in-person betting will be restricted to local casinos and four racetracks. 

MLB and gambling

Major League Baseball has been a proponent of sports betting since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018. League commissioner Rob Manfred has not slowed down in pushing for legislation either.

​​“We see it primarily as a form of increasing fan engagement,” Manfred said during an April interview with ESPN. “It’s an additional way for our fans to interact with the game.”

MLB has already partnered with several betting companies, including FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM. The league also has a heavy interest in California, where five of its franchises (San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, and the Oakland Athletics) are housed.

The league hopes that its influence will help push Proposition 27 over the line.

Major League Baseball remains committed to protecting the integrity of its games”

“As legalized sports betting continues to expand across the country, Major League Baseball remains committed to protecting the integrity of its games and creating a safe experience for fans who wish to wager on those games,” MLB said in a statement released Friday. “Proposition 27 — the only measure on California’s upcoming ballot that would authorize and regulate online sports betting — includes strong integrity provisions designed to help MLB carry out those commitments.”

“The measure would, for example, (1) require sports book operators to notify leagues of suspicious wagering activity, (2) allow leagues to propose restrictions on betting markets that are particularly susceptible to manipulation, and (3) facilitate other forms of integrity-related cooperation between the state, leagues, and operators,” the statement continued. “MLB believes that Prop 27 has the safeguards to create a safe and responsible online sports betting market in California — a state with millions of MLB fans looking for alternatives to illegal offshore betting sites.”

California sports betting

While the league is fully backing Proposition 27, other groups such as the Pechanga Band of Indians would prefer it fails on election day.

Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming are one of the dissenting groups that prefer to keep gaming under the tribes’ control. Critics of Proposition 27 feel that it strips away the sovereignty they have enjoyed.

“A large and growing coalition of Indian Tribes, social justice advocates, teachers, parents, homeless and mental health advocates, business, public safety and labor leaders all strongly oppose Prop 27,” said Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for the Yes on 26 and No on 27 campaigns, in a statement to ESPN. “The out-of-state gambling corporations funding Prop 27 wrote it so they take 90% of the profits out of state, leaving little for California. We’re confident voters will reject this deceptive, dangerous measure in November.”

With that being said, not all of the local groups want to keep the gaming giants out. Several smaller tribes have already signed on to support FanDuel and the other dominant parties.

the industry could produce $3.57bn in revenue

California is a hub for entertainment in the US and stands to gain significantly from legal sports betting. The industry could produce $3.57bn in revenue if online and in-person gambling is expanded, according to projections from research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC. 

Democrats, California’s in-power group of politicians, oppose Proposition 27. However, the future of California sports betting will ultimately be decided on the November ballot.